Paper Moon (1972)

463f4-paper-moonDirected by Peter Bogdanovich and starring the father, daughter pair of Ryan O’Neil and Tatum O’Neil, this film is set filmed in stark black and white and set during the Depression. 

Addie Loggins is a little girl who has just lost her mother and her closest relation is the shifty Bible salesman Moses Pray. Reluctantly he agrees to take Addie along to some kin in St. Joseph’s Missouri where she can be cared for and he also pockets $200 which is rightfully hers. Sparks fly from the beginning between the perpetually grouchy Addie and the constantly annoyed Moze. However, with the tricks of Moze and the cuteness of Addie, this unlikely pair is able to sell numerous Bibles all over the state to hapless widows. 

However, all that is put on hold when they stop at a carnival and Moze becomes infatuated with a high maintenance, exotic dancer named Trixie (Madeleine Kahn). Trixie and her young maid tag along and Addie becomes annoyed with all the attention Trixie now receives. Addies devises a plan with Imogene and it results in a disgusted Moze heading back on the road with Addie. 

Their next job includes taking a store of whiskey from a bootlegger so they can sell it back. However, they run into trouble with the local sheriff, who just happens to be the bootleggers brother! They escape thanks to Addie, pawn the car, and get across to Missouri. There everything catches up with Moze and he gets beat up and all their money is stolen. Soon after, he and Addie finally part ways. But in the end this rag tag pair realizes they actually care for each other and they head out to pull more cons all across the country… so Moze can pay Addie her $200. 

The strained relationship between the two leads unfortunately reflected the real relationship of father and daughter. In the film however, they were great together adding both humor and drama to this bleak story. As always Bogdanovich loves his nostalgia and there is plenty of it here to be enjoyed.

4/5 Stars

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